Why don't I feel better?
Picture this: you embark on a new adventure where you meet a stranger, tell them your life story, ugly cry for an hour, write them a check, and then you leave their office feeling the same or worse than you did when you walked in. Welcome to therapy! (Don't give up just yet!) There are many analogies to describe therapy. I am fond of comparing it to acne medication, as sometimes things look and feel a lot worse before they start to improve. Counseling can also be like a roller coaster, with twists and turns and stomach lurching drops. You may very well end up yelling to get off the ride! With all of that being said, let me tell you why you absolutely should go to therapy!
Plain and simple: IT WORKS.
Therapy is so much more than just talking and having someone listen; it is designed to help you gain insight and focus on yourself, your relationships, your thoughts, your actions/behaviors, and your past and present experiences. Many believe that therapy is a magical process and therapists are characters out of Harry Potter films who are able to wave a wand and fix everything. Although I would gladly be sorted into the House of Gryffindor and sometimes my interpretations can seem down right magical, therapy does not "fix" things in one flick of a wrist.
Therapy requires vulnerability and trust, and this alone takes time to build between therapist and client. I try to take my time and be authentically me in order for a client to feel comfortable enough to let me into the quiet areas of their life. We then must walk together on a path of recovery and stabilization. Again, we have to trust each other to make this journey, especially as we may encounter bumps and twists and turns along the way. We don't necessarily start off at a high speed sprint; we may have to walk a bit first.
Therapy is a process. It involves an emotionally intimate relationship and the creation of a safe nonjudgmental space. I'd imagine that most folks do not want to rush this, and instead want to take their time to develop this therapeutic relationship. Once some of the nervousness dissipates and you get used to the head nodding and "tell me more about that," you may find that it becomes easier to talk to your therapist and feel the connection that is so important to the work.
This is where I will insert various idioms that seem appropriate: Rome wasn't built in a day; Slow and steady wins the race. Just think: most likely you didn't gain these concerns in one day, so it won't take one day to make change. You may not feel exceptional after your first session. But, also, you may experience a sense of relief and release. Recognize that you may be talking about deep pain that you haven't talked to anyone else about; you might be stirring up traumatic images that you tend to turn away from. That first step is a doozy!! But, if you keep at it, you will find that having that safe space actually is transformative. Maybe it is pretty magical after all. -Dr. B